As many of you know, my "day job" is being a communication professor. And I love what I do for a living! I really do. But I have to admit that for most of my adult life, I've had an entrepreneurial spirit. However, the problem was that I wasn't raised with an entrepreneurial mindset. Regardless of the fact that my father was a dentist and owned his own practice (so, technically, an entrepreneur), my parents never really encouraged us to do anything other than go to college, graduate school, and get a good job working for someone else. That's not necessarily a bad thing. And they didn't even tell us that directly, I guess it was just assumed. But most people are raised that way, right?
What my parents valued the most was education. So it's not surprising that I got my Ph.D. and became a college professor. But as much as I love teaching, there was always a nagging feeling inside me that I was meant to do more outside the classroom walls. The topics I teach, such as communication, gender, relationships, etc. are all applicable to everyday life -- and to everyone. So for almost 20 years, I have tried many entrepreneurial pursuits, and not many of them were successful. I don't want to say they failed, because I don't believe in "failure." I believe that if something doesn't work out, it's a learning opportunity.
My first venture was partnering with my mom and sisters on a consulting and training business. I was the main attraction, since I had the knowledge of communication and relationships to actually do the training and consulting. And one of my sisters is also a high-powered executive for a major company, so it seemed like a good idea. But it wasn't a good time in our lives, because we were all getting married and having babies at the time. So I guess the time just wasn't right.
Fast forward about seven years, and we tried something else. We all had studied the Law of Attraction and were deeply interested in teaching it to others. So we started a website and created curriculum for tele-classes. It was actually a great idea, but none of us had any marketing skills. And 10 years ago, online marketing was a lot more difficult (pre-social media days). Plus, we were all still raising young children, so the timing still wasn't quite right yet.
After those ventures, I had several other business ideas that didn't work out either. I would tell you about them all, but then this article would get too long!
The point is this: I never gave up. Never! I never even thought about it. I'm sure people who know me were secretly laughing behind my back thinking, "Oh there she goes again with another hair-brained business idea!" But I didn't care. I figured that I was learning from all my supposed "failures" and that eventually I would be successful with something.
And I was right.
Several years ago, I partnered with the owner of A Better Me Magazine, and we have created a pretty awesome, positive, diverse website that helps people become better versions of themselves. I love that! And I am also starting another business project with a different partner that is centered around an online TV show that we will co-host called Live Laugh Learn TV.
I have learned many things along the way -- especially about making money online. And so I want to share a few of them with you:
1. Seek sponsors.
Sponsors are just a fancy word for advertisers, but it sounds better! I'm a horrible sales person, so the thought of going around trying to sell advertising on my websites does not sound like a fun idea to me. But, what I am good at is connecting with people. I like meeting new people, either in person or virtually. And once people get to know you (and like you), they want to do business with you. So asking them to be a sponsor after you have an established relationship with them is a lot easier - and more successful in the long run.
2. Open an Amazon store.
Many website owners don't even know they can do this! Let's say you own a dog walking service. You can choose products related to pets from Amazon to sell on your website and make commission. Or, if you are a life coach, you can choose self-improvement books or CDs that you can sell that are related to what you do. How awesome is that? You don't have to have products of your own, you can just sell the ones already on Amazon. It's a great way to make passive income.
3. Use Facebook advertisements.
Believe it or not, Facebook is useful for a LOT more than just staying connected to friends and family. It has turned into a massively important way to promote, market, and advertise your business and products. Any business who is not making use of Facebook needs to do it ASAP. From a business/fan page to low-cost advertising, it's a must in today's business world.
4. Build a mailing list.
I know that most of us don't like getting "spammed." Or sometimes we even sign up for a mailing list without knowing it, and then we wonder why we keep getting emails from "this guy." I know, because I'm like that too. However, if you don't have a mailing list, you have no one to "talk to" (aka "sell to"). Sure, maybe everyone won't open up or read your emails, but some will. So offer a freebie (such as an e-book, or some other helpful/informational guide) on your website in exchange for someone's email address. That way, you can sell them more of your products down the line by "talking to them" through email.
Being an entrepreneur can be scary. But in many circumstances, you don't have to jump right into it full time. You can start slowly and then develop into a full time job as your business grows. So don't give up! And hopefully these tips will help you along your journey as they have helped me in mine.